MAHTOMEDI — Unfunded segments of the 10-mile Lake Links Trail could get a jump start with draft legislation soon to be introduced.
Lake Links Association Co-chair Steve Wolgamot is helping area legislators draft language for unfinished sections of the trail around White Bear Lake. The “ask” is directed at the Metropolitan Council, as before. The amount is preliminary, but like last year, $4.1 million in grant money is the likely request, as follows:
• $3.22 million to the city of Dellwood. Elements of the trail, generally parallel to and within 300 feet of the right of way along Trunk Highway (TH) 244, may include elevated walkways and separated trails.
• $380,000 to the city of White Bear Lake for a trail parallel to and within 200 feet of right of way of TH96.
• $380,000 to White Bear Township for a trail parallel to and within 200 feet of TH96.
• $120,000 to the city of Birchwood Village for a trail parallel to and within 200 feet of right of way of Hall Avenue.
The figure for Dellwood is slightly less than proposed in the preliminary engineering study prepared by WSB & Associates, Wolgamot said. For the other locations, the amount is essentially $200 per linear foot.
At a Lake Links Association meeting Jan. 14, invited legislators voiced their support of the association's mission to complete the trail.
“This is grassroots involvement at its finest,” Sen. Chuck Wiger told trail proponents. “It's going to happen and it's an honor for us to be messengers.”
The Maplewood senator recalled how he'd been involved with the trail effort 20 years ago and how it was resurrected by the Lake Links Association in 2016. “I hope people realize the economic benefit this brings to the area,” he said.
Wiger was co-author of a bill last year that allocated $4.022 million in bonding money for design and construction of specific trail sections. Most of the funding, $2.6 million, was earmarked for 1.5 miles of trail improvements along South Shore Boulevard. That work is ongoing as the county continues to study design options. Most popular, according to public input, is a one-way multiuse path similar to Lake Avenue. Construction is likely to start summer of 2020.
A segment of trail in Mahtomedi, along Birchwood, Wildwood Beach and Briarwood Roads, received $1.4 million in funding in 2018.
Birchwood Road will be a significant expense, noted Wolgamot. Lake Links is working with WSB engineers on a proposed plan to narrow traffic lanes from 12 to 10 feet on the roadway to build an 8- or 10-foot asphalt trail on the east side. A low-sloped curb will allow turtles to cross the trail.
The north shore trail presents some problems, Wolgamot told the group. Much of the property is private and split between the city and township. There is 66 feet of right of way but on the wrong side of the road. There is also a 900-foot stretch with no right of way. An engineering consultant is being retained to advise on trail possibilities. White Bear Township and White Bear Lake each received $11,000 last year for preliminary engineering along TH 96.
Like Wiger, Wolgamot is confident the Lake Links trail will get done. He expects the Mahtomedi part to be done this summer and Dellwood in 2020, dependent on funding.
A Dellwood trail has many different circumstances, continued the co-chairman. At this point, Lake Links is recommending a 10-foot trail along 970 feet of right of way on the lake side from Meadow Lane to Ordway Street made of fiberglass decking. The trail would run along 35 feet of right of way from Peninsula Road to Meadow then cross to the other side of the road going north.
Lake Links is not pursuing a uniform separated trail around the entire lake. “It will be different in every community,” Wolgamot said. “The objective is to keep people removed from cars. We look forward to a final route that fits the circumstances in each segment and that reflects the character and generosity of the communities, legislators and counties who together make up Lake Links.”
Hearings on the legislation are expected in February and March.